In the picturesque landscapes of Lamu County, a silent tragedy unfolds as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) find themselves in a state of neglect, struggling to reclaim their lives amidst the shadows of terror.
For over three months, these families have sought refuge within the walls of Juhudi Primary School, fleeing the relentless storm of terror attacks orchestrated by al Shabaab militants.
The plight of approximately 200 families hailing from Juhudi, Salama, Widho, Mashogoni, Marafa, Ukumbi, Nyatha, Mavuno, Poromoko, Kausara, and nearby areas have all been attributed to terror attacks by the al Shabaab militants in the region.
Between June and August this year, Lamu witnessed a series of terrorist attacks that have left a total of eight people, including the wife of Hindi ward MCA James Njaaga, having been killed by suspected al Shabaab militants.
According to a report by the Star, the families at the camp complained that despite numerous calls for the national government to establish security camps in their villages to enable them to vacate the camp, nothing has so far materialised.
“We are now stranded at the camp. We don’t know where our fate lies. Until when are we going to live in this camp at a time of harvesting like this? Our crops continue to be destroyed by wildlife in our villages but we can’t go back,” said Peter Muthengi, one of the families at the camp.
“We fear the enemy is still around. Let the government establish security camps to enable us to get confidence to return to our rural homes and live.”
Mary Wanjiru, a resident of Juhudi, narrates a tale of restless nights at the camp and a tiring routine of returning home during the day.
“They promised to establish a police camp between Juhudi and Salama which is a common route used by terrorists to attack our villages. We only saw an excavator that came to clear the bushes within the Juhudi-Salama area and left,” Wanjiru said.
“Since then, we haven’t seen any further steps taken, including deploying security officers in the area. We can’t go back to those insecure villages. We shall camp here until the time the state will implement the proposal to establish security camps at the grassroots.”
Yet, amidst this struggle, another looming crisis emerges – the deplorable state of sanitation facilities and hygiene.
“We don’t have mosquito nets here. The school’s toilets here are made of mud and are in a bad state. They’re few and some of us are forced to relieve ourselves in the bushes around. We fear a disease outbreak here and we need urgent assistance,” Simon Kariuki said.
In response, Lamu West Deputy County Commissioner, Gabriel Kioni, echoes the government’s stance on security measures insisting on the need for the IDP families at Juhudi Primary to dissolve the camp and go back to their homes.
“Processes are on to establish a Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) camp within the Juhudi-Salama area. In the meantime, the government has intensified security patrols in the affected villages,” Kioni said.
“I can assure the citizens that their security is guaranteed. So, let them vacate the camp and go back to their homes. It’s harvesting period and they need to go and check their shambas.”